Stop intimidating citizens, soldiers told

HARARE - Some forces loyal to President Robert Mugabe are destabilising the country, marring a ceasefire brokered by principals in the coalition government, a lawmaker has said.

Members of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC have planned rallies across the country, trusting that the truce would protect them from a military that is said to have frightened off MDC supporters for months.

“When you look at the constituencies, especially in Gokwe — we have soldiers who have been deployed in areas and these soldiers are also intimidating people in these areas,” Kadoma Central MDC MP Editor Matamisa said during debate on the president’s speech last Friday.

Mugabe’s opponents had called for mass rallies to test whether the authorities would tolerate a return to peaceful organisation, as Sadc’s election roadmap said they should.

“You will find that as of now, people are being intimidated by the uniformed forces in this country,” Matamisa told Parliament.

“Yet what surprises me is that the head of State and the leader of the party is preaching peace; preaching harmony yet the people from his party are doing the exact opposite of what he is saying.”

International pressure has grown for Zimbabwe to fulfil all its commitments to the power sharing Global Political Agreement (GPA) by withdrawing troops, permitting media access to all parties and discussing a political transition.

Mugabe has told Parliament that he wants a free and fair, violence-free poll.

“Let us all shun violence in all its manifestations and latent forms, especially as we look forward to our national elections,” Mugabe told the official opening of Parliament recently.

Matamisa said Mugabe’s ceasefire declaration was insincere and renewed a call for soldiers to return back to the barracks.

“They have to go to do some civilian jobs such as construction of schools and dams — all that happens in a country when there is peace and this is what I am expecting to see in Zimbabwe which has peace,” she said. - Gift Phiri, Politics Editor

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